Why Kejriwal, the boy from Haryana, wants to be a pure Delhiite now
After studying in West Bengal, working in Bihar, living in Uttar Pradesh, Arvind Kejriwal says Delhi is only for Delhiites.
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A day after India celebrated Independence Day in 1968, a family in Siwani that falls in Haryana’s Bhiwani, celebrated a birthday. The boy who had taken birth in this upper middle-class family in Siwani was Arvind Kejriwal.
Kid Kejriwal’s father was an electrical engineer who graduated from the Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra. Mesra happens to now be in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, carved out of undivided Bihar.
Arvind Kejriwal was living in Uttar Pradesh till he became the Chief Minister of Delhi. (Photo: PTI)
Kejriwal himself cleared the exams to the Indian Institute of Technology and found a seat in IIT Kharagpur. Kharagpur is in India’s eastern state of West Bengal. Later, he found a job in Jamshedpur. Back then Jamshedpur was in Bihar and Kejriwal, a boy from Haryana, was now a migrant worker in Bihar.
He went on to clear civil service exams but drifted to social activism and this drift dragged him to Kaushambi in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, a city adjacent to Delhi. The movement between Delhi and Ghaziabad was then unrestricted. So a resident of Kaushambi in no time captured the imagination of the average Delhiite, selling dreams of politics with a difference, and moved to Bungalow No 6 on Delhi's Bhagwan Das Road.
In his third stint as Chief Minister, Haryana’s kid Kejriwal, has transformed himself into the man trying to shut Delhi’s gates on those not from Delhi. As a first step, he announced that Delhi’s borders with Noida should be shut so that people from outside do not come looking for beds in Delhi hospitals.
India is a country where medical tourism had been booming until the coronavirus shut doors on all kinds of tourism. In 2017, 4,95,056 people from countries ranging from Afghanistan, to Bangladesh, to Kenya, to Oman, to Iraq flocked to India for cheaper medical care. We say they flocked to India, but these flocks generally nestled in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
In the post-Covid world, forget tourism if you want treatment, “Show me the kagaz,” says Kejriwal. Jo kagaz nahi dikhayenge wo hospital beds nahi payenge. This kagaz is not a proof of citizenship, but your residentship. From voter ID card, to Aadhaar card, to a postal department’s post received/delivered in the patient’s name at the given address, to a lot of other papers that one may not have despite having stayed in Delhi for years, all qualify as documents to pass the residency test.
Most people in Delhi are migrant workers. They may not be daily-wage earners forced to walk back to where they migrated from, but they are still migrants who do not have the required kagaz. People staying on rent, women in houses where no documents exist in their names, or daily wagers who stay on footpaths, have no documents to prove they belong.
Kejriwal says this is justified because 7.5 lakh people voted on the matter and 90 per cent of those who voted, around 6.75 lakh people, said ‘Delhi for Delhiites’. So technically, it’s not Kejriwal saying this, but Delhi residents voting for it. Delhi has a population of over 2 crore people. A vote in which all 2 crore-plus people participate is still not valid because it has no constitutional validity.
Arvind Kejriwal says denying beds to non-Dehiites was fine because people voted for it. (Representational Photo: Reuters)
But what does the Constitution say on the matter? According to the Constitution, health is a state subject. Kejriwal has a right to decide on Delhi’s health policies. The same Constitution, under Article 21, guarantees everyone the right to life, a life of dignity at that.
Kejriwal is telling people without ‘valid’ documents in the state that “your life is your state’s problem”. The paperless people of India are stateless people.
Under Article 239AA of the Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is the head of the state. L-G Anil Baijal has for now overturned Kejriwal’s decision to reserve beds. AAP says if everyone flocks to Delhi for treatment, we won’t be to handle the rush.
People flock to Delhi because the capital city offers better treatment. It was the hunt for better treatment that made Kejriwal take a flight from Delhi to Bengaluru. After several trips to and from Karanataka's capital, Kejriwal's incessant cough stopped.
He now says a person from any other part of India, including Bengaluru, can’t do so in his state.
In 2014, Kejriwal had tried to give a booster dose to his political career by contesting against BJP’s then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. In 2019, his party tried to make inroads in Haryana on the back of a tie-up with the Congress. The tie-up didn't happen. The boost never came. In Punjab, AAP succeeded in making those inroads in 2014.
It will be interesting to know what the boy from Haryana has to tell his party’s voters in other states, including Haryana. Maybe he doesn’t plan to face them anymore, having settled in Delhi as a pure Delhiite, in Bungalow No 6, out of bounds for the aam aadmi.